Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tools of the Trade

I've continued to have a terrible block about the next step in the angel quilt. I've been casting about for visual clues, ideas, shapes that would help clarify the fuzzy picture in my mind. Sketching, either thumbnail or full size, has gotten me nowhere. Leafing through my many quilting books started to yield results. Still, I've been resistive, telling myself I'm out of my depth. I'd let myself forget about the tools of the design trade: copying machine to make copies and quickly resize existing pattern parts, pencil and paper held to a window for tracing, scissors for cutting out paper patterns to be traced around, eraser for editing.

The fuzzy image needing clarification was an arbor-like framing up the sides and over the top of the angel. Not too elaborate, maybe with branches, maybe with the ess-like swirls similar to what surrounded the angel in the original quilt. Or could I get away with a solid piece of the batik forming the arch? I have a very limited amount of the batik in mind, so once cut, I would be committed. I just couldn't envision it. But at least I could cut a paper arch to see if I liked the shape. This window is from the Methodist Church of my youth, and the pointed arch shape I had in mind.

Then while paging through Borders & Finishing Touches by Bonnie K. Browning, I spotted several pictures with a more rounded top - one from a church doorway in Bologna and one from a 15th century mosque. I immediately felt this a better shape, less claustrophobic. (And now that I look at my own picture, I see that window includes the same shape within the stained glass portion.) An open latticework would be lovely, but with the sides only 2" wide, it would be much too fussy. I couldn't think how to fill that space. Then while flipping through a catalogue over lunch, I spotted the wrought iron trellis with the ess curves - Now I could see how to fit my own ess shapes along the curve of my frame by running an echoing guideline 2" away from it. Now my wild unguided drawing had a contained space to work in.

So today it was with more direction that I approached the process, although I was still "researching" leaf and vine shapes. Finally, I just started freehand drawing the esses with the trellis picture as a guide. Frustrated at the funky uneven shapes, I remembered about tracing around a round object to get the starting point and started to get the shape I wanted. Finally, looking at my overly large pattern from the first angel quilt, I realized I was being a little stubborn by not taking it and reducing it on my copier/printer. It only took two tries to get it to size, then using the window as a light box, I could overlay my new ess shape and merge the two.

It was also at this point that I remembered I could photocopy my batik fabric and use the paper version to cut and pin up on the quilt top. Ah - what freedom at last! Here the top portion is paper, the thin strips down the sides the actual fabric. It looks much better than I thought it would.

Here is the scroll pattern sketched on the paper frame. I'll cut those motifs out of my paper fabric and see how they look directly on the quilt background, forming the "trellis" shape. I also want to try them in a brown fabric over the batik, or perhaps I'll use the batik frame by itself and use these motifs in the quilting design.

At any rate, it's good to be moving again, and to remember how much I enjoy designing, once I remember to use the tools of the trade.


Rhonda said...

Ooooh, yes! This is looking good!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Rhonda, I needed that. Today didn't end as well and the quilt looks so blah and dark. Need to spark it up somehow - maybe it will look better in the morning? Or I'll have a mighty brainstorm!